DENVER — DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis will be activating the Colorado National Guard to be on stand-by to protect the State Capitol in case any planned Inauguration Day protests turn violent.
Polis made the announcement during a Tuesday news conference to discuss the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor said he wasn’t aware of any specific threats against Colorado’s Capitol Building, but said he would be issuing an executive order based on the general threat on state capitols conveyed to law enforcement by the FBI last week.
"In the event that any protests becomes violent, we of course cherish our First Amendment rights, but I have full confidence in our State Patrol... local law enforcement will ensure the safety and well being of our fellow Coloradans." said Polis during a press briefing. "Our democracy deserves the sacred right to free speech but it does not enable or facilitate the perpetuation of violence or destruction. This country does stand for violence and destruction and Colorado does not stand for violence and destruction."
An internal FBI bulletin had warned of nationwide armed protests at all 50 state capitol buildings. The agency warned that protests would extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Protests planned in Denver against the 2020 election results drew only a handful of people on Sunday. However, Inauguration Day is expected to draw more protesters to the nation’s capital and possibly here in Denver as well.
In addition to the governor’s executive order, the Colorado State Patrol, the agency in charge of capitol security, and the Denver Police Department are taking measures to beef up security at the capitol and around the city Wednesday. However, those agencies did not disclose staffing or what measures they have in place, citing security reasons.
Denver police tweeted a reminder Tuesday that it is unlawful to openly carry a firearm in the City and County of Denver. Additionally, Colorado has banned large-capacity gun magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition. Violators of either ordinance will be subject to arrest, police said.
Polis has already activated at least 200 members of the Colorado National Guard and sent them to Washington D.C. to help with security for Inauguration Day after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The members departed from Buckley Air Force base Sunday.
Denver7 has learned of three protests planned for at or around the Colorado State Capitol on Wednesday: one claiming to be organized by Black Lives Matter and Antifa members, another claiming to be part of anti-government movement, and the third called, "Colorado Inauguration March".
"Our goal is to put pressure on elected officials and to remind the community that Biden and Harris did win but we still have to keep going, we still have to fight for change." said Iris Butler, an organizer of the "Colorado Inauguration March".
Butler said while she doesn't know how Wednesday's turnout will be, she's hopeful that nothing escalates.
"Doesn't matter what side. You say your piece in peace. And then we'll say ours in peace and let's not cause chaos - but we've seen in the past that's not always the case." Butler said.
One week ago Denver7 was contacted by a group called "MAGA Trump Colorado", its executive director, Amy Ollivier, said in an interview, "We're here to represent the American people, and anyone that doesn't hold to those values, we will be the first ones to disavow,"